Caribou Conservation Breeding Foundation (CCBF)
|Caribou (Reindeer) are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in the Red List of Threatened Species™ (version 2022-1)|
Caribou (Rangifer tarandus) – Vulnerable*
- Caribou are also known as reindeer.
- They live in the northern parts of Europe, Asia, Greenland and North America.
- Caribou is a large mammal. It can reach 240 to 700 pounds in weight and 4 to 5 feet of height at the shoulder.
- There are two species of caribou (reindeer): the tundra reindeer and the woodland reindeer. (each with subspecies)
- Caribou is the only member of deer family where both males and females grow antlers.
- They are one of the few animals that can see ultraviolet light! This exceptional adaptation helps them see greater contrast in snowy environments, find food and even detect predators.
- Their eyes also change through the seasons. In the dark winter months, their eyes become more sensitive to light to see better in the darkness, and the inside turns from gold to blue!
- When faced with danger Caribou release a special scent from a gland located in their ankles which tells other caribous about near danger.
- Caribous are threatened by habitat loss, deforestation, and global climate changes.
Wild populations of reindeer and caribou (Rangifer tarandus) have decreased by 40% globally. Throughout North America, several caribou herds are rapidly heading towards extinction as a result of human-induced habitat alteration and climate change.
Southern mountain caribou are a unique population of woodland caribou found in and around Canada’s southern Rocky Mountains. The Southern group of SMC is currently listed as Endangered, with populations decreasing from 3,000 in 2003 to less than 1,200 individuals.
The decline of Southern mountain caribou is attributed to the combination of habitat alteration and fragmentation, predation and human disturbance. These continuing and expanding threats are predicted to lead to the extinction of more than half of the remaining herds within 40 years.
About Caribou Conservation Breeding Foundation (CCBF)
Habitat protection and restoration measures, while key to the recovery of caribou, are not effective enough in the short term to reverse population declines and preserve the most vulnerable populations. Conservation breeding can support caribou recovery by conserving individuals from non-viable herds and reinforcing viable herds. It also opens the possibility of future reintroduction to historic range.
The Caribou Conservation Breeding Foundation (CCBF) is a Canadian not-for-profit organization that focuses on the development of conservation breeding programs to support the recovery of the most vulnerable caribou populations. We propel conservation theory into practice by uniting caribou advocates and wildlife professionals and bridging the gap between caribou recovery initiatives and the field of conservation breeding.
The government of BC is exploring conservation breeding as a tool to support the recovery of Southern mountain caribou. Final approval for this project is pending.
[* current IUCN Red List Category]
(photos by David Moskowitz, Cory DeStein, Doug Heard)
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